I spent the better part of last night reading through love letters dating back to 1938 written by my parents. My mom was 16; my dad was 18. Two young people who found one another through writing.
My mom had written an article about war, and it was printed in The Milwaukee Journal on July 16, 1938. My dad, who lived in Arkansas, had gone for a Sunday walk and bought a Denver Post. There, while paging through the paper, he came across a page that had photos of young girls and the articles they wrote on the topic of war.
My dad, with paper in hand, wrote to my mother. She received countless letters from readers but only responded to one - my dad's. And so began their courtship. What was to follow was eight years of writing to one another and falling in love through their words from their hearts.
Soon after the first letter was written and mailed, my dad was off to war. Mom graduated from high school (she went to her prom with her brother, wanting to stay true to a new love she hadn't even met) and, after graduation, she was off to Milwaukee State Teacher's College.
The letters spoke of dreams and desires, lifetime aspirations, and news from both their worlds. The letters my mom received from my dad from Australia, New Guinea, and other parts of the world, were all censored by the Army.
My mom talked about her siblings and how she had to care for them while attending school, studying, and helping in the store. She expressed her sadness in how the war was keeping her and my dad apart, and she spoke about how much she would cherish every single moment she had with him once the war ended.
My dad spoke of his experiences of war, his feelings of love, and how much my mother's letters helped him to make it through each war-torn day.
Once, several months had passed since my mother had received a letter, she wrote of her worries for my dad and how her mind had a tendency to think the worst. Soon, the much-awaited response arrived. My dad had come down with malaria while in New Guinea and was literally at death's door.
He wrote to my mom telling her how he had prayed, "Lord, please don't let me die before seeing and meeting the woman I love."
His prayers, of course, were heard and answered.
I read the Western Union my mom received April 28, 1945 at 3:30 p.m. from my dad: "Darling leaving Harrison Monday noon, arrive Milwaukee Tuesday about 5:30 p.m. by bus. Will call from Chicago. All my love."
A month after their first meeting, and eight years after their written relationship, they married. They did make many of their dreams come true. They had the perfect family (with a few extra children than planned) four boys and a girl.
My dad passed away last year on July 12th, 2009 my mother’s birthday. We were at his side when God took his hands from ours and placed them in his own.
This past May my parents would have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. They still tenderly care for one another, “I feel your dad’s presence everywhere I go,” my mom said on their anniversary. My dad, with his artistic God-given talent, had designed and composed his own greetings for my mother. In going through some of his things I found a card from years gone by. It meant just as much, if not more, to my mother as the day he gave it to her.
My mom now lives with my husband and I.
I think of the men who are now in the Iraq war. I think of the women they left behind and how much the times have changed since my parents love story. Now, with the age of technology, there are letters of love being sent via the Internet in e-mails and instant greetings. It's nice, I'm sure, for those involved to receive these. But nothing can compare to the old-fashioned love of a hand-written love letter sent through the mail. The anticipation, the smiles as you hold and smell the envelope, the joy as you gently, with love, tear the envelope open, the tears as you read and run your fingers across the words written by your love.
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